(NYDAILYNEWS) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed off on a controversial law decriminalizing domestic violence as long as it does not happen more than once a year.
The new law makes the first offense of violence against “close persons” such as relatives or children an administrative offense, punishable by a 30,000 ruble fine ($500) or arrest for 15 days.
The previous maximum penalty was prison for up to two years.
Russia’s lawmakers in the Duma overwhelmingly approved of the bill, which applies to cases of “pain” such as bruising, but does not decriminalise “bodily harm” such as broken bones.
Domestic attackers would also face criminal charges and prison time if there are repeat offenses, but only if the second occurs within a year of the first.
The law’s backers say that there are already other laws that cover criminal levels of violence.
“It is the most minimal family arguments, with the smallest consequences,” Duma member Yelena Mizulina, who also championed the country’s anti-gay propaganda law in 2013, told TASS.
However, opponents of the law say that it shows that the Russian government does not care about the widespread problem of domestic violence in the country.
Roughly 14,000 women are killed each year by their partners, with three-quarters of them trying to leave when they were murdered, according to a UN report from 2007.